The Science of the total environment

The effects of different coatings on zinc oxide nanoparticles and their influence on dissolution and bioaccumulation by the green alga, C. reinhardtii.

PMID 24836387


Determining the environmental risk of nanoparticles (NPs) requires an in-depth understanding of the NP core, the particle surface coatings and the interactions of the two with environmental matrices. Non-coated ZnO NPs (nZnO) are known to release ionic Zn, contributing directly to the toxicity of these particles. On the other hand, relatively less data are available for particles that have coatings designed to increase particle stability. In this study, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii was exposed to either a soluble Zn salt or nZnO with different stabilizers: (i) bare nZnO, (ii) polyacrylic acid-stabilized, nZnO-PAA, or a (iii) sodium hexametaphosphate-stabilized, nZnO-HMP. Multiple techniques were used to quantify particle agglomeration and dissolution. The dissolution of the NPs depended on the stabilizer, with the largest dissolution obtained for the bare nZnO (near total dissolution), followed by the nZnO-PAA. When exposed to the bare and PAA-stabilized nZnOs, bioaccumulation was largely accounted for by free Zn. On the other hand, the bioaccumulation of nZnO-HMP was greater than could be attributed to the release of free Zn from the particles. The increased Zn bioaccumulation was hypothesized to have resulted from the biological stimulation of C. reinhardtii due to phosphate from the particle coating.